The Dublin 13 troubadour is joined by John Grant, Imelda May and many more on this album of duets 

'Tis the season for noses being out of joint, and in a studio or rehearsal space somewhere there's bound to be a singer smarting because they weren't asked to appear on Damien Dempsey's Union.

Having provided grist for the Greatest Hits mill back in 2014, the Dublin 13 troubadour has offered fans that little bit more this time with a collection of close-to-the-heart covers and room-for-two reworkings of his own songs. As a timeout from all things tinsel, it works a treat.

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Union shows that Dempsey has three duets albums just waiting to be made with John Grant (Soulsun), Kate Tempest (A Child is An Open Book) and Imelda May (Big Big Love), and the case could also be made for having Maverick Sabre (You're Like the Water), Lisa O'Neill (The Keepers of the Flame) and Seamus Begley (Kevin Barry) on speed dial. That's not to take away from the contributions of others here, but these are the standouts. Everyone on the tracks makes Dempsey sound either stronger or softer - in the best way.

If he's not mulling a follow-up, he should really be thinking about bringing the cast of Union together for a concert and live record. Imagine the high dudgeon about the guest list for that gig...

Harry Guerin